Guest post: ‘Add Zombies and Stir: Five Unique Ideas for Spicing Up Your NaNo Book’ by Rochelle Melander

Being way behind (20 days!) with NaNoWriMo, I’m especially delighted to bring you tonight’s extra guest blog post, on the topic of NaNoWriMo, by author and coach Rochelle Melander.

‘Add Zombies and Stir: Five Unique Ideas for Spicing Up Your NaNo Book’

We have nine days left to succeed at National Novel Writing Month. That’s nine days to get to the point, tie up the plot, or simply cross the word count finish line. If you’re like me, you used up your best ideas back in the first week, when this whole thing was a fresh adventure. Now you may be tired, cranky, and worried about how you will possibly survive both Thanksgiving and the end of NaNoWriMo without hurting someone. If ever you needed a Hail Mary pass, it is now. Worry not, weary writers! Here are five items you can add to your novel that will create conflict, add interesting details, and possibly help you finish writing on time!

  1. Tofurky. Most of the time, our individual food choices do not seem to matter to others. But during the holiday season, family members may fight over each other’s food preferences. Are your characters experiencing Thanksgiving right along with you? If so, throw a Tofurky-eating vegetarian character into the mix and see how the conflict unfolds. Or have a bird-eating character experience his first taste of tofurky.
  2. Space Junk. When space programs leave behind objects that no longer serve any purpose, they float around in space and, sometimes, collide with space vehicles or fall to earth. Though much of this junk is quite small (think paint chips), some of it is large enough to do damage. This past fall, a 6-ton UARS satellite fell to earth and landed in Canada. If your story needs a bit of spunk, try dropping a bit of space junk on your characters, their homes, or their favorite personal possessions.
  3. Bacteria. I recently read that scientists are breeding bacteria for the sole purpose of cleaning damaged frescoes in Spain. If bacteria can restore an old painting, imagine what else it can do. But don’t worry about the science. Dream up some wild new or nefarious uses for bacteria and add it to your book. Let your characters use the bacteria, battle it, or run from it—that should take up a few pages of action and dialogue!
  4. Virtual Reality. If you’re having difficulty finding things for your characters to do in their real, fictional world, connect them to a virtual world. What mischief might your characters concoct when they are living out their fantasies in Everquest or World of Warcraft? Of course the downside of this activity—as the writer, you will have to explore these worlds. Don’t get lost in a virtual reality and forget to finish your NaNoWriMo project!
  5. Vampires, Killer Monkeys, and Zombies. It’s an old trick but a fun one. When you cannot figure out how to rescue your characters from impending boredom, throw in a crazed creature. I’ve given you three possibilities, but there are oh so many more to choose from—ninjas, werewolves, and large human-eating insects. Let your imagination run wild—or at least let it run through your memory of old Buffy episodes—and find a villain who might add some intrigue to your plot.

There you have it: five ways to add conflict to your book. Now it is your turn: what is your failsafe plan for rescuing your NaNoWriMo project?

You had me at the title. Thank you Rochelle… I definitely need a tofurky! 🙂

Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach and the author of 10 books, including a new book to help fiction and nonfiction writers write fast: Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) (October 2011). Melander teaches professionals how to get published, establish credibility, and navigate the new world of social media. In 2006, Rochelle founded Dream Keepers Writing Group, a program that teaches writing to at-risk tweens and teens. Visit her online at

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with historical novelist Anna Patrizio – the one hundred and ninety-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

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